Why Tech Start-ups Shouldn’t Hold Off Their Branding Until “Down The Track”

Why Tech Start-ups Shouldn’t Hold Off Their Branding Until “Down The Track”
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In this guest post, Drew Usher (main photo), strategy director at Hotwire Australia, says emerging tech start-ups would be naive to put banding and marketing in the “not for now” basket…

Because branding and marketing is still seen as a nice to have rather than a must have, a common strategy within tech start-ups is to put off branding until final rounds of funding or IPO.

Or, there is a small effort made in initial branding, with a view to ‘change it down the track’. In our previous articles, we discussed branding for the bottom line, and B2B branding for trust. In this article, let’s discuss why putting off branding until later is a mistake.

And it is a mistake for a few reasons: Investment, employees, and time.

Investors want to invest in strong brands 

Iteration and reiteration is a concept most tech companies are very familiar with, so it’s not surprising we often hear tech executives say: ‘We can always change things around when we grow’.

As a result of this, many brand engagements with growth-stage tech companies occur like this: ‘Investors are pushing us for a brand revamp! We need to relook at name, logo, positioning – the works’.

However, stats show 82 per cent of investors want the companies they invest in to have a strong brand prior to investing. Forbes reports B2B companies with brands that are perceived as strong generate a higher EBIT margin than others.

Companies that rebrand also take another final hit. When companies rebrand, it usually costs 5-10% of their yearly marketing budget. This is money better spent on growing audiences and engagement, not wasted on a brand improperly executed the first time around.

Brand and culture 

A brand is the foundational component of your culture. A strong culture is the soul of your company – this is something you cannot keep changing as you go along.

It will evolve during your journey as an organisation by necessity, but it needs to be actively managed and nurtured from day zero, not constantly thrown out and regularly re-designed.

It is important to know, not only do strong brands attract and retain the best employees, but brands with poor company branding pay 10 per cent higher salaries.

If you want a company culture that can help shape success and save on the bottom line, then start by dedicating time, effort and resources to define the brand strategy from day zero. This way, your brand identity doesn’t need constant reinventing, instead the purpose and promise simply need reinterpreting in new and different ways.

Branding takes time 

Good branding is a slow burn. It is not simply a case of whacking up a logo and everyone will recognise it.

Branding also isn’t only about creative assets. It is also about communicating what you stand for. It is about nurturing trust. It is about engaging with and growing audiences. Your brand communicates your mission and goals to the world.

To do this, creative and messaging needs to be consistent across channels for a decent length of time. Remember, there needs to be 5-7 brand interactions before a consumer even remembers a brand.

And yet, less than 10 per cent of B2B companies say their branding is very consistent. Inconsistent branding, or worse, changing branding altogether down the line, runs the risk of alienating the audiences a brand has already won over.

Brand building is often undervalued by tech executives. The thought of creating a brand purpose, promise and personality to guide all business and marketing decisions, often seems like a foreign concept, deemed unnecessary for continued growth.

Building a good brand from a solid strategy at the inception of a business is vital to not only set your brand on a solid footing, but also to save, and even make, money in the short to longer terms.

It is widely reported by the ‘godfathers of brand effectiveness’, Les Binet and Peter Field, that building the brand creates stronger ‘pull power’, especially when compared to a pure ‘push tactic’ where rational messaging is aimed at lead generation and conversion. 

We’re Hotwire Australia. A bunch of bright sparks, bound by an irrepressible spirit of mateship. Each business brand we drive is testament to the tech fanaticism that makes us irreplaceable. We hunt for human truths at the heart of tech complexity, and craft them into irregular tales of tech that leave investors, prospects and talent irretrievably drawn to act. From Scale-ups to Stalwarts, we make the technical, irresistible. Find out more.

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Drew Usher Hotwire

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